Huge win by the Dawgs against Virginia Tech. The Dawgs are now 6 and 3. Not bad for a team with young point guards.
There was a lot to like about this game.
1. Play of the Point Guards
Dustin Ware and Zac Swansey were much better. I like Dustin's confidence. He still settles for the long-distance jumpshot too much, but he will be a consistent scorer one of these days.
Zac Swansey played his best game of the year, in my opinion. He fought over the top of screens, defended with energy and purpose against a quick point guard for Tech. Distributed the basketball to shooters.
Zac did not shoot particularly well. There were a couple of drives to the basket in which he missed lay-ups. Not easy lay-ups, mind you, but ones that he normally converts. And he missed two critical free throws down the stretch. But the bottom line was that Swansey defended, passed well, and didn't turn the ball over. On balance, a good game.
2. Corey Butler
Corey Butler. My player of the game. He led the team in scoring with 11 points. He went 4 of 8 from the field, and made the assist late to Albert Jackson. The key to the entire game, however, was the job Butler did against Tech's shooter, Vasallo, in the second half. Butler defended like crazy. Fantastic game.
3. Chris Barnes
I keep saying that Barnes can give us "Trevor Booker-like" play down in the post. Booker is the fantastic power forward for Clemson. Well, against Tech, Barnes showed Dawg fans a glimpse of the player he can become. He went 4 of 4 from the field.
And let's face it. Teams are intimidated by a big guy who goes strong to the basket and dunks the ball with authority. Barnes did that last night. But in addition to his power game, Barnes also demonstrated improved fundamentals, scoring at least one basket with his off hand, a skill he developed while he was recovering from surgery on his right wrist.
Barnes can put up big numbers. Great hands. Fantastic leaping ability. Decent-enough shooting touch. He missed a couple of free throws, but other than that, a great job.
4. Dennis Felton
Coach Felton just seems a lot more relaxed this year. Guys on the message boards calling for his job and saying things that don't bear repeating. Meanwhile, Coach Felton was interviewed by Rivals, recently, and I was impressed.
Felton was just calm. Said that even in the loss to Illinois, he saw some things that he was pleased with-- such as the team's defensive intensity. Way too many turnovers, of course, but rather than calling his team out publicly, he praised them. That's what a good coach does with a young squad.
I have a feeling that Felton will make UGA very happy this year. This year. Sure, he has a 13-man roster with 9 freshmen and sophomores. Members of his team have had injuries, this season and last, that have hurt player development. But UGA basketball is growing, and as his players improve, Felton will look smarter and smarter.
Anyway, Felton has kept up the guys' spirits, has them believing in themselves, and I'm betting that a lot of UGA fans will get on board in the not too distant future.